Assessing the Active Use of Mobile Money Services in Cameroon


This paper contains figures and facts about Mobile Money (MM) in Cameroon. These facts are about the evolution, subscription, live MM services and strategies implemented for active MM usage in Cameroon. Although we believe that the paper is based on official data, the said data are also subject to numerous changes due to updates on the development of the service (MM); at the time of publication of the analysis.



Highlights of Mobile Money Trends in West and Central Africa

According to GSMA’s Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) Program (2015), Mobile Money (MM) is a component of Mobile Financial Services which uses the mobile phone to provide remittance and payment services to the “unbanked”. Considering the large number of “unbanked” people in the world, especially, in Developing countries, MM is increasingly being used as a strategic tools to boost the rate of financial inclusion.

In this vein, data on MM from GSMA’s Mobile Money Deployment Tracker (2015) indicate that there are 271 live MM services being provided in 93 countries, 411 million registered accounts and 134 million active users. In December 2015, MM providers in Africa processed 33 million transactions a day, totaling just over a billion transactions. 15 of the said providers reported revenues of more than USD 1 million in the month of June 2015.

Market-tracking data from Mobile Money Africa Newsletters (2015/16), indicate that the top mobile money providers in Sub-Saharan Africa include: Safaricom M-PESA, WorldRemit, Orange Money, Tigo Cash, MTN Mobile Money and Airtel Money. In the CEMAC zone, there are 5 key MM providers namely: MTN Mobile Money, Orange Money, Express Union Mobile, Flooz Mobile Money and Airtel Money.

Figure 1: Provision of MM Services in Central Africa


Evolution of Mobile Money in Cameroon

According to Media Intelligence’s tracked data on the Cameroon Remittance Market, MM was introduced in 2008, by Express Union. After the launch of Express Union Mobile, MTN Cameroon launched MTN Mobile Money in 2010. A year later, Orange Cameroun joined the digital market with Orange Money in 2011. Société Générale Cameroun (SGC) later launched Monifone in 2012.

As at now, there were about 6.8 million MM subscribers and close to 1.5 million active users in Cameroon. MTN Mobile Money by the end of June 2016 registered 2.4 million subscribers with about 220 000 active users whereas by December 2015, Orange Money registered 2.2 million subscribers and 200 000 active users and Express Union Mobile registered 500 000 subscribers and 300 000 active accounts.

As at end September 2016, the number of subscribers to the MTN Mobile Money service in Cameroon reached 2.7 million, an increase of 13.2% compared to the 2nd Quarter of 2016. In absolute value, this statistic reveals that 300,000 new clients joined this service in Cameroon, since there were only 2.4 million registered as at end June 2016 (Business in Cameroon 2016). By the close of 2015, MTN Mobile Money opened 2500 Cash In/Out Points, Orange Cameroun had 1700 Pay-Out Points while Express Union served its customers from its 650 POS.

Figure 2: Timeline of MM in Cameroon


Live Mobile Money Services in Cameroon

Presently, the MM service in Cameroonis at its Growth Stage and is being introduced to new business sectors including taxation, insurance, etc… serving a wider range of payment (utilities, transportation, education, E-commerce, hospital bills) and disbursement (salary, pension, tax, insurance, remittance, cash deposit, A2A) services. However, the active use of MM, in Cameroon, is still slow given that its providers still face tough challenges implementing the cashless culture and boosting the customer experience in order to develop MM from Growth to Maturity in Cameroon.

Figure 3: Live MM Services in Cameroon


Mindful of the aforementioned operational MM services in Cameroon, the next daunting task is for the providers to determine the best strategies to effectively implement MM and ensure the active use of the said services.


Mobile Money Development Strategies

  • Business Model: MM operators, in Cameroon, use two business models to provide their services. They include: B2C (serve customers directly at their POS) and B2B (serve customers indirectly via banks or other third-party partners). Express Union Mobile uses the B2C model while MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money both implement the B2C and B2B models.


  • Mobile Money Services: MM operators in Cameroon provide about 15 live services. The said services, according the Digital Payments Ecosystem designed by GSMA’s Mobile Money Program (2015),  have been classified into three main groups namely: Primarily Payments: C2B/B2B (school fees, hospital bills, utility & media bills, E-commerce and retail service payments), Primarily Disbursements: B2C (NGO subsidies and remittance payments) and both Payments & Disbursements: P2G/ B2B/ C2B (salary, taxation and insurance payments).


  • Mobile Money Subscribers: The strategies implemented by the MM providers to get new subscribers and maintain current ones include: launching free subscription campaigns, providing fast/user-friendly services via mobile phones and websites, offering up to 100% bonus on Voice Calls for every airtime purchase, providing remittance services at very low costs (Starting from FCFA 10), increasing the number of Cash In/Out Points, offering discounts for the purchase of digital devices including Smartphones, touchpads and Internet modems, providing efficient time management and ensuring cash security through instant mobile-payment services (bills, tuition fees, ticketing, insurance premium, etc.).


  • Market Coverage: Although the growth of MM in Cameroon mainly depends on its healthy provision, it also relies on an extensive market coverage strategy. In this connection, the MM providers have adopted 3 key strategies to increase their market proximity and serve as many customers as possible. These strategies include: opening Points of Sale, awarding distribution licenses to third-parties and signing partnerships with other players such as: banks, insurance companies, travel agencies, filling stations, super markets, Microfinance Institutions, etc.

Figure 4: MM Development Strategies


However, in light of this provision and usage of MM services, one is left to wonder if the vertical and horizontal (subscription & active usage) goal is achieved in Cameroon… have the MM providers succeeded in getting the Cameroonian MM user to effectively consume financial services with their mobile wallets… has MM influenced, in any way, the Cameroonian’s manner of using money?


What’s the Key Objective of Mobile Money in Cameroon: Driving Subscription or Bridging Financial Inclusion?

A profound analysis of MM in Cameroon paints the image of an “Incomplete Circle”. The providers seem to focus more on developing digital services, opening Pay-Out Points and increasing their subscriber base than effectively serving the “unbanked”, ensuring that their solutions are actively used and encouraging the Cameroonian to fully embrace the cashless culture by frequently using virtual money to consume financial services.

Today, a good number of Cameroonians mostly use their mobile wallets for payment services, especially, during promotions to purchase airtime or pay electricity bills because of the enticing related bonuses.

A considerable number also have trust issues with using MM for both Disbursement (salary, remittance, savings, insurance, etc. payment) and Payment (tuition, bill, tax, airtime, etc. payment) services. This is because the digital solutions do not give room for error. Once the transaction is done with an error, it cannot be corrected… thus leaving most customers skeptical and unsatisfied.  

Moreover, the fact that some MM services (MTN Mobile Money) only function with Internet connection also limits the active use of the digital solution, especially, in areas with poor connection or pay-out points with limited cash particularly, in the hinterlands.  These shortcomings also hinder the efficient use of MM because customers are mostly embarrassed with “unavailable service" or “no cash” to carry out considerable financial transactions. These flaws, thus, limit the use of MM to few and minor services such as the payment of bills and airtime purchase than major financial services including salary payment, loan application and savings withdrawal.

In spite of the seamless and security advantage related to using MM, it’s still very common to find banks and remittance agencies overcrowded with long queues. This is because the Cameroonian is so attached to his money and feels more confident with physical than virtual cash.

Moreover, a good number of basic service providers including provision stores, mini/super markets, off-licenses/snack bars, hospitals, public and private colleges, etc… whose services attract frequent payments, do not have MM Cash Points. This lack, also slows down the active usage of MM.

In addition, majority of Cameroonian employers including the Government, MM Providers and Official Distributors seldom provide disbursement services (salary payments, withdrawals, loan repayments, supplier payments, etc.) via mobile wallets. This gap also impedes the active use of MM and slows down the growth of financial inclusion. As a result, subscribers would scarcely open either MM Current or Saving Accounts to frequently carry out major financial transactions.


What’s the Way Forward?

It is in the best interest of the MM operators to boost the service in Cameroon. This, by enhancing effective MM usage and bridging the gap between mobilizing mere subscription and actively serving the “unbanked”… integrating the consumption of financial services via mobile wallets into the Cameroonian’s financial habits. In order for the mentioned objective to materialize, the MM operators should take the following into consideration:

The MM providers should monitor the financial habits of their customers closely and adapt their solutions to support the said habits. These solutions have to encourage the frequent use of Mobile Financial Services such as: Mobile Money, Mobile Insurance, Mobile Savings, Mobile Tax and Mobile Loans.

The MM providers also need to improve connection quality, foster accessibility and increase the number of Pay-Out points, particularly, at the level of consumer good consumption. These MM Cash In/Out Points should be available at: provision/cold stores, off-licenses/snack bars, mini/super markets, beauty parlors, fashion shops, restaurants, etc.

The MM providers also need to develop strategies that would PUSH the “unbanked” Cameroonians to frequently use their mobile wallets for financial purposes such as: making deposits and withdrawals, saving and applying for loans to pay back easily within a specific period of time. Such strategies could include implementing “A Profit-Sharing Scheme” just as Tigo Pesa in Tanzania which allows its active users to earn more, if they save more, thus, a Win-Win for the customer and the company.



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